The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made a difference in our daily routines. It has even changed the way we exercise. For the first few months, cyclists who would normally ride outdoors took their exercise indoors. Those who were going to cycling classes suddenly found themselves riding at home.
All of this indoor cycling activity has inadvertently shined a brighter light on something known as virtual racing. Actually, there are two forms of virtual racing that have benefited from the social distancing aspects of COVID-19. It is almost as though indoor cycling and virtual racing are a marriage made in heaven.
Riding Virtual Routes
The first form of virtual racing involves riding virtual routes programmed into your bike. For example, you may have always dreamed of running the Tour de France but never had the means to make it happen. Run the race at home with a virtual route programmed into your bike.
The most modrn indoor bikes on the market have the programming capabilities built in. Some even come with HD screens that make the ride more realistic with high quality computer graphics. Throw in a virtual reality headset and it is like you are really there.
Even if you don’t have a top-of-the-line bike with all the bells and whistles, you might be able to still accomplish a virtual race using a tablet, smartphone, or laptop computer. You download the race to your device, then watch for queues on the screen that tell you when and how to adjust your bike. It is not as easy, but it still works.
Virtual Racing for Charity
The other form of virtual racing involves doing what you do for charity. If you are a casual cyclist who normally enters local and regional races for the joy of competition, part of the fee you pay to ride probably goes to charity. You can do the same thing on a virtual basis.
Most of the virtual racing platforms work on the same basic principles. They issue challenges that each racer does on his or her own schedule. Upon completion of the challenge, a medal is awarded. You pay an entry fee just as you would for a live race. Entry fees tend to be lower for virtual races.
Some of these programs work on the honor system. You accept the challenge and the organization assumes that you will honestly report completion of the challenge in order to get your medal. Other programs involve a smartphone app to track your time and/or distance, thus verifying you actually complete the challenge.
At any rate, you can complete each race on your own schedule. In most cases, you can do it over multiple days. Thus, you could run something like the Tour de France over many weeks of regular cycling.
Made for Indoor Cycling
Both types of virtual racing are made for indoor cycling. Indeed, visit a cycling studio like Salt Lake City’s Mcycle and you’ll find that you can do much the same thing in a class environment. You can take classes designed around specific real-world routes that outdoor cyclists run all the time.
You might take a cycling class from home using an internet-capable bike. The same thing goes. You choose a class based on the route that interests you. As you ride, there is an instructor working with you acting as your coach and motivator.
The COVID-19 pandemic has many of us continuing to exercise indoors while we wait for things to fully reopen. If you are cycling at home, consider virtual racing. You might find it quite motivating.